12 Dec Photos and The Museum of Natural History
This weekend we went with to the Museum of Natural History in NY. When we lived in Brooklyn I made class trips with the kids and it was always nuts trying to wrangle 30 2nd graders within a mass of other classes. Thankfully, depite the snow, when we got there this weekend it wasn’t too crowded. As we entered the darkened space I was again struck by how sad and cheesy the dioramas are. They feel a bit fake and suffocating. However, my brother’s 1 year old was just blown away and I connected with the sense of wonder seeing the animals up close brings to kids. The hall of mammals is quite dark so everyone standing in front of us was silhouetted. I immediately noticed the photographic possibilities and started to shoot the people. A few moments later I noticed my daughter holding my nephew and a lightbulb went off.
I shot a few more and it began to feel like a project. Part of what I was thinking about was how the silhouettes felt a lot like the cut-outs that people used to make before photographs- the kind that Kara Walker uses in her work. There was something about the anachronistic nature of the dioramas combined with the silhouettes that just worked. When people first saw the photos they were confused by the context and didn’t realize it was the museum because the person in the foreground increases the sense of depth. Here are a few more.